Judge dismisses juror in Jason Corbett murder trial

Individual dismissed after informing judge that friend allegedly made contact with juror

Molly Martens Corbett and her father Thomas Michael Martens: pair have pleaded not guilty to the murder of   Jason Corbett. Photograph: Davidson County

Molly Martens Corbett and her father Thomas Michael Martens: pair have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Jason Corbett. Photograph: Davidson County

 

One of seven individuals who had been impanelled as members of the jury for the murder trial of Molly Martens Corbett and Thomas Martens was dismissed on Thursday at the Davidson County Courthouse in Lexington, North Carolina.

The individual was dismissed after a close friend allegedly made contact with the juror, who alerted judge David Lee to the matter directly related to the case.

The matter was discussed briefly in open court on Thursday, but due to what the juror called the “delicate” nature of the conversation, it was taken up in the judge’s chambers before attorneys and the juror returned to the courtroom.

“I’ll do my best to completely ignore it,” the juror said. “There have been some things that happened . . . but I’ll do my best to put it out of my mind.”

The judge initially asked for the juror to screen calls from the party in question. The prosecution responded by requesting dismissal of the juror. David Freedman, defence attorney for Mr Martens, objected, but ultimately Mr Lee permitted the prosecution to use a peremptory challenge to remove the juror.

Six jurors remain

In turn, only six seated jurors remained. Six more must be chosen, along with two alternate jurors.

Six potential jurors were approved on Thursday by the prosecution, subject to questioning by the defence.

Finally, a third potential juror since the outset of jury selection was dismissed on Thursday for lack of candour regarding a 16-page questionnaire. A total of 143 potential jurors were on hand for the first day of trial on Monday.

Each individual was initially required to complete the questionnaire, which included their knowledge of potential witnesses, in order to expedite the process of selecting a jury of 12 individuals, according to the judge.

Prosecuting attorneys, as well as Mr Freedman, have reminded jurors of the graphic nature of some of the photographs they would examine during the case.

The widow and father-in-law of Limerick man Jason Corbett are charged with second-degree murder in connection with an incident in the early-morning hours of August 2nd, 2015, when he was found beaten to death inside his Wallburg, North Carolina home.

Ms Martens and her father have both pleaded not guilty to those charges, claiming self-defence.